The patronage of mobile money continuesto gain momentum,as for the third year running the value of transactions has seen an astronomical jump -- from GH¢2.4billion as at 2013 to about GH¢11.6billion in 2014, according to industry data seen by the B&FT.
The value of mobile money transactions when put into perspective is more than a third of the total deposit liabilities of the 28 banks as at the end of last year, and shows the vital role telecom companies are playing to advance the central bank’s cashlite economy agenda and also ensure that the push for more financial inclusion is brought into the hands of millions of Ghanaians.
Currently, only three of the six mobile telcos -- MTN, Airtel and Tigo-- are involved in the mobile money business, which has grown from a transaction value of GH¢171million in 2012 to the multi-billion cedi sector it is now.
Other companies such as Afric Xpress and e-Transact Ghana are also riding on the back of the mobile phone’s popularity with the country’s estimated 26-million population, offering various services which allow people to remit money to relatives and friends through the device.
The growth of the transactions’value over the years corresponds with a similar trend in the volume of transactions. So far, the number of transactions has almost quadrupled since 2012; from 30 million to about 106.4 million in 2014.
Industry watchers say the growth of mobile money will allow millions of people who are otherwise excluded from the formal financial system to perform financial transactions relatively cheaply, securely, and reliably.
Already, mobile network operators are eager for implementation of a new Bank of Ghana regulation on mobile payment systems, which they contend will help to boost payment transactions using the mobile phone.
They contend attempts by the Bank of Ghana to replace its regulation on branchless banking with that of mobile financial services will help telecom companies fully participate in the financial services sector through subsidiaries that are regulated and supervised by the central bank.
Mobile telephony service subscription has surpassed 30 million subscribers, indicating that the mobile penetration has long breached 100 percent of the country’s 26 million population.
According to the ITU Telecommunication Standardisation Sector (ITU-T) report on mobile money, the service has achieved the broadest success in sub-Saharan Africa, where 16 percent of adults report having used a mobile phone in the past 12 months to pay bills or send or receive money.
Despite the seemingly strong performance of mobile money in Ghana, it is still far less than the value of transactions recorded in Kenya -- where the popularity of M-PESA has led it to record more than US$375million on a monthly basis.
A report on M-PESA reveals that between 2007 and 2009 the percentage of M-PESA users who were unbanked doubled (from 25 to 50 percent) and the number living in rural areas also increased (from 29 to 41 percent). M-PESA users are not just using the service to send and receive money but also for saving.
The momentum of the Ghanaian market, some industry analysts told B&FT, will be further enhanced when interoperability between service providers is concluded. Currently, mobile money users are restricted from sending or receiving funds from any provider other than the one they belong to.
The central bank’s strategic payments roadmap, tailored to promote a cashlite society, is expected to address the issue of interoperability while enhancing existing payment systems in the country by building on the current payment systems infrastructure engineered by the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) to reduce the dependence on cash for transactions.
The operations of mobile money operators fit well into the central bank’s agenda to promote cashlite and cashless transactions, thus making it easier for an e-commerce and cashless payment platforms to really work in the country.
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